Coronavirus update: Regeneron drug very effective at preventing COVID-19

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The Biden administration is asking court officials to unblock its vaccine mandate

Coronavirus (COVID-19) ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 46,624,332 (46,490,680)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 755,915 (754,474)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 250,580,621 (250,056,541)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,060,487 (5,052,620)‌

Regeneron drug reportedly 81% effective at preventing COVID-19

The news about potential treatments of COVID-19 continues to get better. Regeneron now reports that Phase 3 clinical trials of its experimental drug REGEN-COV reduced the risk of contracting COVID-19 by 81.6% during the pre-specified follow-up period of two to eight months.

Though not a vaccine, the drug reportedly acts like one. It could benefit many people who are immunocompromised and unable to take any of the vaccines.

"Today's new data demonstrate how a single dose of REGEN-COV can help protect people from COVID-19 for many months after administration," said Myron S. Cohen, M.D., who leads the monoclonal antibody efforts for the NIH-sponsored COVID Prevention Network. "These results demonstrate that REGEN-COV has the potential to provide long-lasting immunity from SARS-CoV-2 infection, a result particularly important to those who do not respond to COVID-19 vaccines including people who are immunocompromised."

Biden administration asks court to unblock vaccine mandate

Lawyers for the Biden administration have filed court documents seeking to undo an injunction that is temporarily blocking its vaccine mandate for private companies with 100 or more employees. The mandate was halted Friday by an appeals court that said the order may have overstepped the administration’s authority.

The administration’s filing claimed that the executive branch has clear authority to order people to get vaccinated as part of its mission to protect public health. It notes that millions of Americans are returning to the workplace as the pandemic begins to wind down.

"With the reopening of workplaces and the emergence of the highly transmissible Delta variant, the threat to workers is ongoing and overwhelming," the administration said in its filing.

Why the elderly are at greater risk from COVID-19

From the very beginning of the pandemic, health professionals knew that elderly people, as well as people with underlying health conditions, would be the most vulnerable to COVID-19. What they didn’t know was why.

In the case of the elderly, researchers at Brown University say they now have a better understanding. In a study, they describe the cellular and molecular events that explain why these groups have a higher risk of becoming infected, experiencing severe side effects, and dying.

“This paper details a major discovery in COVID-19,” said corresponding author Dr. Jack A. Elias, an immunologist and dean of medicine and biological sciences at Brown. “It shows that levels of a protein called chitinase 3-like-1 increase with age as well as co-morbid diseases and infection. What’s more, chitinase 3-like-1 augments SARS CoV-2 infection.”

Around the nation

  • Nebraska: The state will resume updating its COVID-19 dashboard on a daily basis. Gov. Pete Ricketts said the move is in response to an increase in hospitalizations in recent weeks. “Our hospitalizations have been up around 400 or so, which is kinda the threshold to hit the 10% level we’ve talked about throughout the course of the pandemic, and that’s the threshold where we start doing the daily data,” he said.

  • North Carolina: State officials say they are off to a fast start in vaccinating young children. Records show that more than 8,000 children between the ages of five and 11 have received their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine in the first days it was approved for use in that age group.

  • Virginia: First Lady Jill Biden helped promote vaccinations for children during a trip to an elementary school in Fairfax County. "The president and I know how difficult this pandemic has been for your kids and your families,” she said at Franklin Sherman Elementary School. “And I'm here today because we care about you and your beautiful children." 

  • Arizona: During the pandemic, when airlines slashed the number of their flights, hundreds of spare planes were parked at the Pinal Air Park in Marana. Now, officials say many of those jets are taking off again as airlines restore more flights to their schedules.

  • Connecticut: Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin has announced that the city is lifting its indoor mask mandate because COVID-19 cases are falling. “I believe that it’s responsible action today to remove that mandate," Bronin said, pointing out that businesses can still require masks at their discretion. 

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